I have updated our Shacknews Year of the Games 2020 article with the latest of The Shacknews Awards 2020 to be announced. Here's an easy to consume list of all the awards announced as of the evening of December 22, 2020.
Best Fighting Game of 2020 - Granblue Fantasy Versus
Check out our Shacknews Best Fighting Game of 2020 - Granblue Fantasy Versus article.
Best Sports Game of 2020 - NHL 21
Check out our Shacknews Best Sports Game of 2020 - NHL 21 article.
Best Remake of 2020 - Final Fantasy VII
Check out our Shacknews Best Remake of 2020 - Final Fantasy VII article.
Best Racing Game of 2020 - F1 2020
Check out our Shacknews Best Racing Game of 2020 - F1 2020 article.
Most Overlooked Game of 2020 - Fuser
Check out our Shacknews Most Overlooked Game of 2020 - Fuser article.
Best Video Game Pet of 2020 - Sea of Thieves Cats & Dogs
Out of all the pets introduced to players in 2020, Sea of Thieves’ cats and dogs are by far the best on offer. Players were originally given access to birds and monkeys back in 2019, but this year saw Rare give players the opportunity to own a variety of cat and dog breeds. These furry friends go on adventures with you, tag along as you search for treasure or fight skeletons, and are there on your ship between the emergent chaos the game offers. Whether you’re firing them out of a cannon, feeding them some fish, or playing a song on a hurdy-gurdy to see them dance, your cat or dog is there for you.
Speaking from a personal level, the pets in Sea of Thieves allows players to see their real life pet expressed in-game. Shacknews’ Video Editor Greg Burke’s Nessie passed away this year, but she is able to continue going on adventures with her beloved owner. Sometimes a seemingly mundane addition to a game can be the most meaningful to a player. -Sam Chandler, Guides Editor
Best Platformer Game - Spelunky 2
There is a quickly learned understanding about the entire nature of Spelunky 2: It will kill you, and the challenge you face upon return will be altogether different, for better or worse. But it's also kind of part of the entire charm of the game. Whatever challenge it throws at you, whether unfair or suspiciously easy, Spelunky 2 is made to create impromptu comedy. You might fail, but you almost have to laugh at the sheer absurdity of its machinations. You might be attacked by a crazy old shopkeep with a shotgun for stealing from him, crushed by a boulder for grabbing some sweet treasure, or attacked by an old man because a boulder from a treasure you took rolled through his shop.
The first Spelunky set a bar in hap-hazard adventure and failing alongside a platformer full of various tools and opportunities to thwart death. Spelunky 2 built upon that fantastically and made it an procedurally-generated adventure that we'll probably be returning to for years to come. -TJ Denzer, News Editor
Best Strand Game of 2020 - Death Stranding (PC)
2020 really showed everyone just how important delivery people are in our everyday lives. Sam Porter Bridges graced our TVs last year on the PlayStation platform, but this year we were treated to Hideo Kojima's genius on PC. The game is still about connecting the strands but now players get to witness the amazing visual experience in DLSS 2.0 greatness. Congratulations to the team at Kojima Productions on yet another achievement genre-defining game production. -Asif Khan, CEO
Biggest Surprise of 2020 - Microsoft buying Bethesda
2020 has been a year full of surprises, twists, and turns. When we think of what surprised us the most in the world of gaming, nothing stands above Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media and Bethesda. Hungry to add more first-party studios to its arsenal, we’ve seen Phil Spencer and company pull in studios like Ninja Theory and Obsidian. Bethesda is without-a-doubt the biggest name Microsoft has acquired to date.
What’s most interesting about this move is the potential for the future. With franchises like Fallout, Doom, and The Elder Scrolls now under the Microsoft banner, we could see Xbox receive some high-profile exclusives this generation. Only time will tell if Microsoft’s $7.5 billion purchase was worth it. -Donovan Erskine, Contributing Editor
Best Puzzle Game of 2020 - Carto
A good puzzle isn't necessarily something you've yet to see before. Sometimes, a good puzzle is simply a fascinating approach to something you know all too well. Maps are nearly as ancient as time itself, but what would happen if you took a map, turned it into a jigsaw puzzle, and added a little magic and imagination? Well, then you might get something like Carto.
This is an indie game that caught us by surprise in its charm and simplicity that advances into complexity. Carto is much like Shacknews 2019 Puzzle Game of the Year Baba Is You in that it begins so fundamentally in sharing its design with you, yet expands so wonderfully throughout. As a young girl with a magic map, you have the means to take known locations and move them around on your map like a puzzle board to shift the topography of the world around you. The story then gives you hints as to what needs to happen in order to move the narrative forward by way of the map. Sometimes the story dictates that a man by the sea must be on the east end of the island to be home. Sometimes a forest demands that your travels through it must lead you west if you are to avoid becoming lost.
Carto's chapters each add a growing collection of pieces to the puzzle as you rearrange the map and world to tell the story properly. And with a charming art style and lighthearted narrative to boot, it was quite exquisitely a puzzle format that kept us engaged throughout. -TJ Denzer, News Editor
Best Old School Throwback Game of 2020 - Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2
When Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater first hit the scene at the turn of the century it was a pioneering new game that essentially created its own genre. As the series continued, so did the gameplay integrations. Sequels added even more potential for massive, out of this world, trick combos by throwing in manuals and reverts. And who could forget about those iconic soundtracks? When Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 hit the pavement this year it was like a shot of adrenaline for the skateboarding genre. Not only did it make visual improvements and integrate the aforementioned reverts and manuals into its earlier titles, it also continued the series’ message of inclusion by adding nonbinary skater Leo Baker to its roster of playable characters. The first two Tony Hawk games were already bangers, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 did a great job of reminding folks of that fact while bringing life back to the series, which had admittedly been struggling over the last few years. How could we not give it Best Old School Throwback of 2020? -Blake Morse, Reviews Editor
Best Airline of 2020 - Dodo Airlines
Microsoft Flight Simulator soared among the clouds this year, but you have to fly those planes, and in 2020, I'm not up for additional stressors, thank you very much. Dodo Airlines made the friendly skies of Animal Crossing: New Horizons that much friendlier by offering clean, spacious flights, gregarious pilots, and 24/7 access to friends who wanted to visit me, and who I wanted to visit.
Let me ask you this: Did Dodo Airlines have to cancel flights due to COVID outbreaks? Nope. Did Dodo Airlines have to remove passengers who refused to wear masks? Nuh-uh, and they'll never have to, because Dodo Airlines is the most sanitary airline you'll ever fly. When it doubt, do what dodos would do! Not go extinct. The other thing: fly safely and healthily. -David L. Craddock, Long Reads Editor
Keep it locked on our Year of the Games: 2020 article to find out more awards as they are announced each day leading up to our GOTY 2020 reveal on December 31.